Name That Transit Tune

The marching band played across the street. Blowing bagpipers walked all around the grounds. And inside the Michigan Capitol yesterday the activists that make up the state's increasingly loud public transportation movement all sang the same song: modern mass transit is key to achieving economic competitiveness, environmental stewardship, and social justice in the 21st century.

As a whole, Lansing is tone deaf to the urgent need for imagination, leadership, and unity on the public transportation issue. Speaker of the House Andy Dillon, for instance, who was scheduled to speak in the afternoon press conference, showed up for a minute, posed for a couple photo opps, then mysteriously exited stage left right in the middle of the briefing. I'm guessing he wasn't rushing to catch the bus.

There is, however, a handful of strong voices emerging in the Legislature. State Representatives Hoon-Yung Hopgood and Marie Donigan, both from metro Detroit, and Tom Pearce, from the Grand Rapids suburb of Rockford, are three stand out acts. The pressing question is how much longer will they play solo.

"Michigan's dream has always been two cars in every driveway," said Rep. Pearce, a Republican. "But now we're beginning to understand that not everybody has a driveway. Not everyone has a car."

"The costs of owning a car in this day and age. The environmental concerns that vehicles create. The economic effects [of investment in mass transit]. These are all reasons pushing us to prioritize public transportation," Rep. Pearce continued. "It is certainly time for public transit to grow in the State of Michigan."